During a panel discussion and design tour last week onboard a preview voyage of the Regent Seven Seas Explorer—billed (and trademarked) as The Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built—the trio of firms that executed its 473 crystal chandeliers and acre’s worth of Italian marble talked a lot about the challenges of designing for ocean travel: IMO certifications, low ceilings, engineering around the stresses of a ship’s movement. The one thing conspicuously absent from their list of grievances? The budget. Frank Del Rio, president of Regent’s parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, basically didn’t give them one. Gesturing to the extravagant hand-beaded Maya Romanoff wallpapers and gold-leaf mosaic tiles her team installed in the Explorer’s French restaurant, iCrave’s Lily Genis explained that for a recent land-based project, “we tried to do something like this and the client said that’s great, but no. When we showed it to Frank, he said that’s great, but more.”
In some ways, the $450 million ship’s definition of luxury is certainly of the extravagant, more-is-more mentality: it boasts a double-height entrance atrium with spiral staircases and a massive, glitzy Chelsom chandelier; a 6,000-pound Tibetan prayer wheel sculpture that cost $500,000 to fabricate; and a $10,000-per-night, 4,443 square-foot master suite with a $150,000 bed and a flashy gold bathroom. But for the designers—which in addition to ICRAVE also included Miami’s CallisonRTKL and the Swedish firm Tillberg—the biggest luxuries arose from their unprecedented ability to choose top-shelf materials at every turn, and to obsess over even the most minute details, from gold-leaf ceiling trims to the tiny strips of chagrin and polished chrome that frame the televisions in the ship’s 375 suites. That, and how many of the Explorer’s design features were custom and exclusive. “For me, luxury means things that are unique, that you’re not going to find anywhere else but on this ship,” said CallisonRTKL’s Greg Walton at the panel, adding that “all the decorative lighting is one-of-a-kind, never to be made again.” Not even when the next Most Luxurious Ship Ever inevitably comes around.
Regent Seven Seas Explorer embarks on its maiden voyage on July 20th from Monte Carlo, Monaco and will sail the Meditteranean until November when it will head to the Caribbean for the winter season.